Two-thirds of the EU’s fruit plantation area is concentrated in Spain, Italy and Poland

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The FINANCIAL — Almost 1.3 million hectares (ha) of land in the European Union (EU) were covered with fruit trees in 2017. A little over one third of this total was accounted for by apple orchards (473 500 ha, 37%), and another one fifth by orange groves (255 500 ha, 20%). Of the remainder, peach orchards covered 190 500 ha (15%), small citrus fruit trees producing satsumas and clementines in particular covered 139 600 ha (11%), pear trees covered 100 400 ha (8%), apricots covered 75 700 ha (6%) and lemon groves a further 60 100 ha (5%). The area planted with fruit trees accounted for around 1% of utilised agriculture area (173 million ha in 2016).

Two-thirds of the EU’s fruit plantation areas were concentrated in Spain, Italy and Poland. Spain was the leading EU Member State in terms of the production area of fruit in 2017 (422 800 ha, or 33% of the EU total), followed by Italy (279 300 ha, or 22%) and Poland (167 300 ha, or 13%).

Compared with 2012, the area under fruit trees in the EU slightly increased (+0.4%). Between 2012 and 2017, among the countries with largest areas covered with fruit trees, there were expansions of fruit plantations in Poland (up +16 300 ha, or +11%), in Greece (up +5 300 ha, or +6%), in Romania (up +3 400 ha, or +6%) and in Portugal (up +2 500 ha, or +7%). These offset declines elsewhere, notably in Spain (-9 800 ha less, or -2%), Italy (-6 300 ha less, or -2%), Czechia (-4 100 ha less, or -29%) and Croatia (-1 900 ha less, or -24%).

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Poland has the largest area of apple orchards, Italy of pears and Spain of orange groves, small citrus fruits, peaches, apricots and lemon groves


About one third of the area devoted to apple orchards in the EU was found in Poland (160 800 ha, 34 %) in 2017, with a further one quarter split between Italy and Romania (55 800 ha and 55 100 ha respectively, both around 12%). Apple orchards in the EU expanded by 23 900 ha between 2012 and 2017, with most of that expansion concentrated in Poland (+17 700 ha, or +12%), Romania (+3 800 ha or +12%) and Italy (+3 600 ha, or +7%). There were some notable reductions, however, in Czechia (-2 700 ha, or -24%) and Slovakia (-1 500 ha, or -39%).

A little more than one-half of the EU’s orange groves area was found in Spain (135 100 ha, or 53%) in 2017, with a further one-third being located in Italy (78 300 ha, or 31%). Most of the EU’s remaining groves were found in Greece (28 800 ha, or 11%). Between 2012 and 2017, the area of orange groves in the EU shrank by -11 700 ha, driven by the -10% decline (or -14 900 ha fewer) in Spain.

Among Member States, Spain also had the most hectares of small citrus fruit (72 % of the EU total), of lemons (65 % of the EU total), of peaches (41% of EU total) and of apricots (32 % of the EU total). Italy had the second highest areas planted to all of these fruit but had also the largest area dedicated to pear orchards (29 000 ha, or 29% of the EU’s total pear plantation area).

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Navel oranges account for over half of the oranges, and clementines dominate the small citrus fruits

In the EU, “navel oranges” accounted for almost two-thirds (62%) of orange tree varieties in 2017 and clementines accounted for almost two-thirds (68%) of small citrus fruit trees. The most represented variety groups of other tree fruit in 2017 were “yellow flesh peaches” (43%), “early” apricots (42%), and “conference” pears (32%). There was arguably more variety in apple trees, with “Golden Delicious” being the most widespread (but with only 15 % of the EU’s total apple area), followed by Idared and Jonagold/Jonagored (both 10%).


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